Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs
In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.
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Should I report a minor car accident in Seattle?
Minor fender benders happen every day, often with little or no damage to the vehicles themselves, much less the occupants inside them. So, for these minor inconveniences, do you really need to call your insurance company and report the minor car accident? The answer, in every case, is yes.
Why should I report minor car accidents?
Think of your insurance policy as a contract with the insurance company. They, for example, promise to pay you certain benefits if you are in an accident. And you, on the other hand, promise things as well. And one of the things you promise to do is to let them know if you are in an accident. Therefore, from that perspective alone, you need to preserve your relationship and coverage by letting them know about the accident. You should also be sure to report the accident to the at-fault driver's insurer as well to ensure they are aware of the situation.
In addition, you should also always call the police, even if the accident was a minor fender-bender in a parking lot. Getting a police report is a critical step in the investigation and determination of fault, if that is in question. It is also a great way to gather evidence showing the extent of damages.
What are the risks of not reporting?
You take two big risks not reporting a minor car accident. The first is not collecting key evidence that you can use to prove potential injuries. Even though you may not feel any injuries, many soft-tissue injuries do not show symptoms until 24 to 48 hours after impact. Adrenaline may also hide other injuries. (Always have a doctor check you out after any accident; this can help prove the connection between the accident and any injuries.)
The second risk is that your insurance company does not have the option to investigate and gather facts about the accident, which would help you in an injury case. Your insurer may also drop you for breach of contract (not reporting an accident).
The bottom line is that not reporting the accident is not worth the risk of violating your insurance contract or losing irreplaceable evidence. You may not need the services of a car accident attorney if the injuries themselves are minor, but you will definitely want the protection of insurance in any event. If you do find that the circumstances are complicated or injuries appear over time, contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000.
What is reckless driving in Washington State and how do I prove it caused my accident?
Reckless driving in Washington State is defined as driving that is “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons” using the road. The law also includes a disregard for property as a characteristic of reckless driving. A person who operates a motor vehicle in this manner is guilty of reckless driving. These offenses are considered misdemeanor offenses, and are punishable under the law.
To prove that reckless driving caused your car accident, you must provide evidence that can include:
- Red light and speed camera footage
- Police reports
- Investigation reports
What kinds of behaviors are included in the term “reckless driving?”
The term “reckless driving” could include a range of driving behaviors that range from driving at excessive speeds to negligent lane changes. Reckless driving can also include:
- Running red lights
- Making turns without using appropriate turn signals
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Distracted driving
Can I hold a motorist liable if he is guilty of any of these behaviors?
If a motorist is guilty of just one of these behaviors, a court may not necessarily find that he was guilty of reckless or negligent driving. You may have to establish that the motorist indulged in more than one of these behaviors.
Merely running a red light may not suffice; however, if you are able to establish that the person was driving under the influence of alcohol and ran a red light, your chances of establishing liability are much higher. A court may not consider speeding by itself as reckless driving. However, a court could consider driving at excessive speeds that are almost guaranteed to result in an accident as reckless driving.
In addition, a person could be driving at posted speeds, but could still be guilty of reckless driving if he was driving at a pace too high for the current traffic, and weather conditions. Therefore, it is important to investigate the accident and the other motorist’s driving at the time thoroughly in order to clearly establish the role of reckless driving in causing your accident. Discuss how to establish liability in your reckless driving accident claim with a car accident lawyer.
How can I get help after an accident?
Reckless driving accidents are typically high-impact accidents that result in devastating injuries. If you believe your accident was caused by reckless driving, speak with Kirkland car accident attorney Max Meyers at Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000 or fill out our online contact form, and learn if you have grounds for a claim to help you recover damages for medical expenses, lost income and other damages. After an accident, download our free eBook, Car Accident Secrets Unlocked for any questions you may have.
If I use my PIP insurance, will my insurance go up?
Many people wonder if their insurance will go up after an accident. Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance rate should not increase purely because you use the coverage. In Washington State, insurance rates can only increase if you were at fault in an auto accident. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident, and investigations found that you were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident, the insurance company is likely to consider you as being at fault. In a case like this, your insurance rates could likely increase.
What is Personal Injury Protection?
PIP coverage is insurance coverage that will cover your medical expenses and lost income when you are involved in an auto accident. It is not mandatory to purchase Personal Injury Protection, but it is highly recommended that you do so.
If I am at fault in an accident, how much will my PIP rates increase?
How much your PIP rate increases really depends on the company. The company may increase your rates even if this was the very first accident on your record. In Washington, all insurance companies must file their insurance rates with the insurance department, and must also include clear definitions of how they will increase rates when they choose to do so.
Typically, most insurance companies will comply with the Insurance Services Office standard, and may increase insurance premiums according to the schedule. However, rate increases can differ widely from insurer to insurer.
Some insurance companies may slap you with a higher insurance premium for a moving violation, while other insurance companies have policies that will only increase insurance rates when you have been involved in a “chargeable” accident. These are accidents for which your insurance company has paid out a significant amount in damages. If your car is expensive to insure, and you are involved in an accident, you might find your premiums increasing substantially.
Talk to a car accident lawyer to learn what kind of insurance rate increases you can expect after an accident. For advice about insurance companies and what to expect after an accident download our eBooks “Car Accident Secrets Unlocked”, “Bicycle Accident Secrets Unlocked”, and “Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked”.
Understanding how your PIP coverage works can be frustrating. If you have questions about the coverage that applies to you after an accident, call or schedule a free consultation to speak with a Kirkland auto accident attorney at Max Meyers Law PLLC. 425-399-7000
Should I take a Quick Settlement my Injury Accident Claim?
Many insurance companies will misinform consumers and trick them into believing that receiving a quick settlement is somehow a good thing after suffering injury in a Washington car accident.
Insurance Companies Count on Your Stress
When you’re injured in an accident through no fault of their own, medical bills can add up quickly, as can lost wages from missing time at work. The financial stress can quickly become overwhelming. Insurance companies use your stress to their advantage by offering a “quick settlement” to lure the injury victim into settling a car accident claim. Insurance companies also count on some folks thinking "I don't want to take advantage" or "I just want my ER medical bill paid."
The problem with this is you may not know the full extent of your damages a couple days or a week after the wreck. More serious injuries sometimes don’t become apparent right away (like injuries to a disc in your spine) and it can take weeks or months after the wreck for your doctor to figure out exactly what’s wrong and why you’re not recovering as quickly as expected. However, once an accident victim agrees to settle their personal injury claim it cannot be reopened!
Settling your claim before all of the potential injuries and damages have been discovered risks having more issues come up down the road that won’t be compensated. What if you need surgery down the road? The insurance company knows and is why they are moving quickly. They know if you accept a quick settlement you are likely not receiving full fair compensation for all losses you have suffered in the crash.
Paperwork isn’t always required to form a settlement. If the insurance gives you an injury settlement check and you deposit it, that can be taken as your consent or agreement to settle or close the claim altogether, even though you signed no paperwork.
What Are Your Legal Options - Call For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident in Washington State, attorney Max Meyers and the team at Max Meyers Law PLLC can help get your life back on track. Attorney Max Meyers operates on a contingency fee basis, which relieves the financial stress of affording a quality lawyer. If we do not recover compensation for you, you don’t owe attorney fees.
Call for a Free Consultation 425-399-7000.
I was hit by a stolen car, who will pay for my car repairs and medical bills?
This is a nightmare situation!! Normally, the insurance for the car that hit you covers your damages, EXCEPT when the vehicle is stolen and the thief causes an accident with you. In this situation there is almost always no insurance available from the at-fault vehicle. If the thief had his own car insurance that could cover you but in all likelihood he has no car insurance of his own either. Our Washington car accident lawyer is here to help.
What do you do?
You are going to have to lean heavily on your own auto insurance policy. Your insurance premium won't increase because you were not at fault, so don't hestitate to get your insurance involved early. If your rates do go up, contact the Washington Insurance Commissioner and file a complaint.
If you have collision coverage then your car repairs will be paid by your insurance company. You will have to pay for your deductible. But it's better to pay a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand. If you have no collsision insurance coverage, unfortunately you will be left footing the bill yourself.
If you have PIP insurance your medical bills will be paid under that coverage up to 10,000 or 35,000 depending on the coverage you purchased. If you exceed the PIP coverage or have no PIP, then your health insurance will have to cover your medical bills to treat your accident injuries. Again, you will have to pay the deductibles and co-pays that apply. If you have neither PIP or health insurance, then there is one last resort option, Washington Crime Victims Compansation Program.
The Washington Crime Victims program is designed to help victims of violent crimes not be financially ruined by medical expenses and other associated expense suffered. In auto accident cases, if you were hit by a thief in a stolen vehicle or a DUI driver you would likely qualify for coverage. If you qualify, the program will pay some or perhaps all of your medical bills. This can be a huge blessing in a very bad sitaution. However, the Crime Victims program has a limited yearly budget. Once the budget for a year runs out then no more claims are paid. If you have an accident case where crime victims may help it's important to apply as soon as poosible.
Pain & Suffering
Hopefully you purchased lots of unisured motorist (UM insurance) on your own auto insurance policy. This coverage is designed to cover situations like this when the at-fault vehicle and/or driver have no insurance. UM insurance in essence steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver and provides insurance as if the at-fault driver was covered. UM insurance will cover all medical bills, lost wages, and other harms and losses (i.e. pain & suffering) up to the limit you purchased. However, UM insurance only pays one time so it's important to complete all injury treatment and make sure you are fully healed before talking settlement with the UM insurance adjuster. UM insurance doesn't pay medical bills as you treat or lost wages when you are home recovering, PIP does this.
If you find yourself dealing with all of these issues, you may benefit greatly from talking to a experience attorney who knows all the ins and outs of situations like this. Do yourself a favor and call Kirkland car accident attorney Max Mayers today to find out what your legal rights are before dealing with all of the items discussed above.
You may also find Max's book "Car Accident Secrets Unlocked" helpful as well.
What is my Seattle car, bicycle, or motorcycle accident case worth?
The answer is not as simple as you might think. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula or calculation where you plug in the numbers and a value is spit out. The old saying about multiplying your medical bills by 3, 4 or whatever and that’s your case value is false. Determining what your injury case is worth is more complicated.
There are multiple factors that influence case value:
loss of wages,
loss of ability to do your job/profession,
permanent injuries if any,
length of recovery time,
frequency of injury symptoms,
severity of injury symptoms,
intangible harms (like pain, frustration, stress, humiliation experience when recovering from injuries),
Accident victims can be entitled to compensation for some or all of the above factors depending on the specific injuries suffered.
The biggest impact in determining the value of an injury accident case is the total cost, extent, and length of medical treatment and whether a full recovery was made or if there are permanent and lingering injuries. If you treat for only a couple months and make a full recovery your case value is less than someone who treats for years and is left with a permanent injury. The more severe your injuries the more likely you will benefit, often greatly, from hiring an attorney to help you with your case.
The best way to get a range of what your Washington car, bicycle or motorcycle accident case may be worth is to talk to an experienced, knowledgeable attorney in your local area. If you have questions now, give me a call at 425-399-7000.
Do I have to pay income taxes on my Washington injury settlement?
This is one of the most frequent questions from clients when deciding on a settlement offer. The short answer in Washington is generally NO taxes are owed on money received in settlement of a personal injury claim.
Compensation for an injury is not considered income for tax purposes. You may be asking what does that mean exactly? According to current IRS law, if a car accident victim obtains a settlement for injuries suffered in an accident, which are paid by another party (for example, from the at-fault driver who hit you), the settlement money is not taxable.
Of course there are always exceptions!
The IRS generally taxes Punitive Damages. What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are money that a driver is ordered to pay over and above the full value of a case. They are meant to be additional punishment because the conduct of the at-fault person was so bad or outrageous the jury or judge has decided to set an example for every other driver to heed.
The message of punitive damages is to all drivers beware, you better not do this, or you could be faced with owing a huge amount of money.
However, in Washington state punitive damages are not usually available in car accident claims.
When the media talks about huge verdicts from car accident cases, it usually is from another state that allows punitive damages.
If you are thinking about accepting an insurance company's settlement offer but don't have a lawyer, it might be a good idea to give an experienced Washington injury attorney a call to review your case and make sure you're doing the right thing. If you'd like to talk now, call 425-399-7000.
Who has the right of way at an uncontrolled intersection in Washington?
Two drivers approach an intersection at the same time. There is no traffic light, stop sign, or other traffic control device. Who has the right of way in the state of Washington?
Accidents happen when drivers don't know the answer to this question. Sometimes with tragic results.
Washington state law under RCW 46.61.180 says:
"When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right."
Many Seattle neighborhoods have uncontrolled intersections like this. Plus there are often cars parked on one or both sides of the street blocking the view of approaching vehicles. Driving too fast to and through these intersections can result in serious car accidents and injuries to passengers. The best bet is to drive cautiously and slowly when approaching an uncontrolled intersection. The life you save may be your own or your family members.
If you have a disputed collision the best thing to do is contact Max Meyers Law to discuss your specific accident circumstances. The exact details of what happened will determine who's at-fault, and if both drivers are partially at fault, that can complicate the claim as Washington's comparative negligence laws will apply. If you were in a car accident at an intersection, please call Max Meyers at 425-399-7000 to set up a consultation to review your case and discuss your legal options.
What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is an optional type of insurance you buy on your auto insurance policy to protect you and your family against vehicles that have no insurance. Unfortunately, many cars on Washington state roadways do not have any insurance to cover damages caused in a car accident.
When you’re in a car accident that is not your fault the other car’s insurance is suppose to pay:
- To fix your car
- Pay your medical bills
- Pay your lost wages
- Compensate you for all your harms and losses
When an at-fault driver has no insurance your UM coverage is supposed to step in and take the place of the at-fault party’s insurance. Your UM insurance will pay for all the damages you suffered in the accident caused by the negligence of someone else. (Note that this differs from Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, which covers you if the at-fault driver does not have sufficient coverage to cover your damages.)
UM insurance also covers accidents caused by someone driving a stolen vehicle. A vehicle may have insurance but if it’s been stolen and you’re hit by the car thief, there is an exception and no insurance will apply from the stolen vehicle.
The same is true of an intentional act by another driver, like in a road rage incident. If another car intentionally hits you, the insurance on at-fault car will likely deny payment of any of your damages. Why? Because the collision was intentional which is almost always an exclusion on auto insurance coverage.
If you’re hit by a stolen car or road rage driver you should contact an experienced Washington car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Call us at 425-399-7000.
What Is PIP Insurance & Should I Use It After a Car Accident?
You can buy optional Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage in Washington State to help pay some of your losses from an auto accident, regardless of who caused the wreck. Although you do not have to buy PIP insurance in Washington, state law requires your auto insurer to offer it when you buy a new policy.
To opt out of PIP coverage, you have to reject it in writing. Without your written rejection, your insurance company has to provide the coverage, and you have to pay for it. Most motor vehicle policies in Washington include PIP coverage.
For help with a Washington PIP insurance claim, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000.
Which Costs Will My PIP Policy Cover?
Regardless of who caused your wreck, your PIP can pay some of your:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Lost services; and
- Funeral costs.
How Much PIP Coverage Can I Buy?
Your insurance company might offer coverage above the minimum coverage limits. Your PIP policy will pay up to a certain amount for a variety of accident-related losses. State law sets the maximum amount of coverage you can purchase.
Medical and Hospital Expenses
Each person injured in an accident can get up to a total of $10,000 for reasonable medical and hospital expenses they faced because of the crash. Your PIP policy will continue to pay for medical costs for up to three years after the wreck. The maximum amount of coverage you can buy is $35,000.
Funeral expenses are reimbursed up to $2,000. This amount is the minimum and the maximum coverage you can buy.
You can get income continuation, or lost wages, after a car crash. Your PIP policy will pay a maximum of $200 per week, up to a total of $10,000. These benefits do not begin until you miss 14 consecutive days of work after the wreck. The maximum coverage will pay up to $700 per week for a total of $35,000.
Loss of Services
If you have to pay someone to perform work that you cannot do because of your injuries, like cooking or cleaning, PIP will pay up to $200 a week, up to a total of $5,000. The most you can buy is $14,600 in coverage.
Do I Have to Pay for Any of My Medical Costs Myself?
Unlike some other types of insurance, like health insurance, your PIP coverage should pay all of your covered medical bills, up to the policy limits. You do not have a co-pay or deductible with PIP medical expense benefits.
Your insurer might demand that you get an Independent Medical Examination (IME) with a doctor the company selects. If you refuse to have the IME, the insurer might suspend or terminate payment of your PIP benefits. If your insurer takes any of these steps, you should talk with a lawyer right away.
How Much Does PIP Coverage Cost?
Multiple factors can affect how much you will have to pay for PIP coverage.
Because PIP coverage is something you buy from an insurance company, not from the government, the same amount of coverage can cost more at one company than it costs at another. You might save money if you shop around and compare prices.
It is also important to note that the insurance company will charge you for every vehicle you cover with PIP. Many insurance companies make you pay for PIP coverage on all of your cars and trucks, and will not let you buy the protection for only one of your vehicles.
Who Can Use PIP Benefits?
Imagine, for example, that you have PIP coverage on your car. Your PIP policy can pay benefits to you and:
- Anyone living in your household related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- Foster children;
- Passengers in your car; and
- Bicyclists or pedestrians who suffered injuries in the crash.
When Does PIP Not Apply?
Your insurance company can refuse to pay for medical or other services if it decides:
- The cost is unreasonable;
- The service is unnecessary;
- The service is not related to the accident; or
- You incurred the cost more than three years after the accident.
PIP coverage will not cover injuries from:
- Motorcycles, with some exceptions;
- Recreational vehicles;
- Off-road vehicles; and
- Farm equipment.
Even if the vehicle has PIP coverage, it will be null and void if a legal exception applies. This could impact the situation if the policyholder:
- Intentionally injured someone else or themselves;
- Was committing a felony at the time of the accident;
- Sustained the injuries while racing; or
- Was in a vehicle that did not have PIP coverage.
Can I Purchase Other Optional Coverage?
Because some people drive without auto insurance, experts recommend that you carry PIP coverage on your auto policy. Getting hurt in a crash is bad enough, but having a stack of medical bills to pay will make the situation worse.
Since the amount of PIP coverage you can buy would not pay all of your losses in the event of a significant injury, you should also consider purchasing uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage can overlap with other insurance policies to pay for your damages after a crash with an uninsured driver. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage can help you if the other driver only carried the minimum level of insurance and it is not enough to pay for all your losses.
How Can I Discuss My PIP Claim With a Car Accident Lawyer?
At Max Meyers Law, we apply our years of experience to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We are comfortable with the language and provisions in motor vehicle insurance policies, and we know how to deal with insurance companies after a wreck. Give us a call at 425-399-7000, and we will set up a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.
What are the most common causes of car accidents in Washington state?
As you probably know, there are many different circumstances that can contribute to a car accident. However, among the many causes, there are certainly a few that play more prominent roles than others. The Washington State Department of Transportation's most recent report summarizing collision data from 2011 provides a helpful look at some of the more common causes of car accidents in Seattle and the rest of the state:
Most Common Causes of Washington Car Accidents—All Collisions
- Did not grant right of way to vehicle
- Exceeding reasonable safe speed
- Following too closely
Most Common Causes of Washington Car Accidents—Fatal Accidents
- Under the influence of alcohol
- Car went over the center line
- Exceeding reasonable safe speed
- Exceeding stated speed limit
These were all far and above the most common causes, but there were many others listed including:
- Disregarding stop light
- Improper turn
- Operating defective equipment
- Driver distractions outside of the vehicle
- Apparently asleep
- Driver interacting with passengers, animals or objects in the vehicle
- Improper passing
- Under the influence of drugs
It is alarming how many things can cause accidents, so it is your duty as a licensed driver to make sure you do everything you can to drive safely. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to control other drivers on the road, but by operating your vehicle safely, you will hopefully be able to prevent a Washington traffic accident before it occurs.
If you found our answer helpful, please share this article on Facebook to educate your friends and family about the dangers on the roads of Washington.